You may or may not know this about me, but I used to be a horrifically passive-aggressive person. In my defense, my parents weren’t good communicators so this sort of thing was all I knew. They weren’t always what you could call passive-aggressive necessarily, but they did not communicate what they wanted, expected or thought very well at all. So I guess my only response was to learn to communicate in this way.
“I lived like that for YEARS and never realized what a mess I was.”
I say “I used to be” because, trust me… you can ask the Hubby, I was a WHOLE LOT worse in the past. But even though my passive-aggressive tendencies are extremely reduced these days, there are times when I reactively resort to coping with things this way. I guess you could call me a ‘recovering passive-aggressive’.
I began researching today about how to deal with passive-aggressive behavior. Once I was aware of myself acting this way and took steps to stop, I became keenly aware of others who were severely passive-aggressive. And it is other passive-aggressive people who seem to instinctively pull that same PA reaction out of me.
Let me clarify here by saying that I did NOT realize this is what I was doing all those years. I knew what it meant, but I didn’t really know the term or even when I heard someone use it, it never registered that, in fact, I was a passive-aggressive person. I was complete blind to it. Now that I make an effort to NOT live passive-aggressively, my life is much more peaceful. At least my “inner voice” isn’t forever playing this running monolog of the latest conversation with someone else or some upcoming confrontation I was going to or WISHED I could have.
So far, I haven’t read anything about this trait so maybe I’m the only one who did it, but I suspect that’s not at all the case. I think it’s probably the main “thing” with any PA person. I could spend entire days replaying some conversation, changing my responses or creating new scenarios. I would work up these awesome, very dramatic confrontations I wanted to have with people who had hurt me or wronged me. In my scenarios, I would passionately make my points, I’d ‘tell it like it is’ and give them a piece of my mind. I’d tell them how horribly they treated me or how deeply they had wounded me and they’d always see the error of their ways and spend the rest of eternity trying to right their wrong.
I’m telling you, folks, having a passive-aggressive tendency will make your mind sick.
I lived like that for YEARS and never realized what a mess I was. I mean, sure, I also dealt with depression and diabetes too and recognized those “ailments”, but I just never realized how terribly passive-aggressive I was as just a routine…an everyday occurrence.
“…it never registered that, in fact, I was a passive-aggressive person. I was completely blind to it.
Now, after a few years of coping with recognizing and having others around me, some new and some not-so-new, who are very passive-aggressive, for some reason it has finally occurred to me to research how to deal with them! I don’t know why I never thought about it before. I guess this is all some sort of self-therapy and I’m just giving a name to the behavior I displayed for most of my life. I wish I had known this stuff before now, but as it stands, I guess there’s a reason for it all. If you have known me for eons and tried to point out my ugly temperment, I’m sorry. At the time, I just could not see it and I probably responded poorly. ** * sigh * **
Right now though, I’m desperate to make sure my mind operates in a completely NON-passive-aggressive way so I can get through to others who are seriously PA and tend to direct most of that inner bitterness at me.
Maybe that’s because they know I myself have been and can still react passive-aggressively? Is it a thing that PA’s try to push other PA-people’s buttons? Hmmm… I wonder… but I bet it is.
“I’m telling you, having a passive-aggressive tendency will make your mind sick.”
I may be wrong, y’know… because for reals, I’m not a psychology major nor do I play one on TV, but in this case, I realize that I behaved this way because of deep-seated hurts and rejection during my childhood. Coupled with the depression, I think any sort of dismissive attitude towards me had to make things worse. Just to be told your thoughts are not valid is such an awful feeling. When it’s repeated in a child’s life, I guess you end up with someone like me. Someone who feels worthless, guilty, useless and bitter. The only way I knew to deal with people was in a very non-direct way. That’s why I am a MUCH better communicator in writing than I am in person, face-to-face.
I’m learning to stop that self-destructive, harmful-to-others, sick-mind way of living, finally. It’s a slow process, but maybe, hopefully, Lord willing, I am at a place where I can now destruct difficult relationships with other who are way too much like me… like the me I used to be. But I’m not sure how to deal with it when it feels like all the manipulation and aggressive non-actions are just to be mean. When I was at my worst, I don’t think I ever just set out to see if I could manipulate someone for the heck of it. It was never just to be mean. But if they hurt me, boy, I could be one of the craftiest, nastiest passive-aggressives you ever met. That was a sort-of justification to me: you deserved it if you’d been mean to me. And not knowing any other way to communicate with people, I reacted in kind! In that way, I feel like I was different than some PA-people are. From where I sit, it seems some people just want to manipulate me for fun. Just because they’re bored maybe? I don’t know, and like I said, I don’t remember ever being passive-aggressive toward someone just to be mean, just because I didn’t like the way they looked or because I wanted all the attention. I ** * think * ** I was only that way towards someone who hurt or attacked me. It was my defense when someone was just ugly to me. I’ve never been a mean-spirited person however maybe my poor husband would tell you otherwise. I don’t think I’ll ask him at this time. Maybe one day, when I’m more confident that I’ve overcome that way of responding. ** * ha * **
Again, I’m no psychology major by any means, so I’m not sure if this is even possible … to have different motivations for PA actions? Is that a thing? Or does this behavior always stem from insecurity and low self-esteem no matter if the person is mean-spirited about it or just defensively reactive? Are some people just really mean without having some past damage to their self-worth or psyche?
Hmmm… so interesting.
ANYway, I’m trying to educate myself here. I know there’s a lot of scripture that can be applied here, but I am too tired to look it up and paste it here. Just don’t think I’m looking only at the psychology of it and not the spiritual side of having this kind of personality. Believe me, I certainly realize living with a PA attitude is NOT at all Christ-like. That’s just one more reason I’m so thankful God gives big grace! I have needed and STILL need tons of it! I can now see how very sinful my attitude and actions were when I lived my life from a place of hurt and bitterness.
I just hope I can learn to leave that all behind, even in snap-reactive situations when it’s more likely to slip out again. I want to live the way Jesus wants me to. I want to be able to help other people to either overcome passive-aggression in themselves or help PAs around them. I know we can be difficult people to love, hard to interact with and I want to help people see how destructive and reversible it is. Jesus can heal the diseases of bitterness and manipulation and passive-aggressive mindsets.
Lord, let it be so!
PS: I realize being vague, like leaving out any identification, is a tactic of a passive-aggressive person however, in this case, I definitely do not want to identify anyone since any of the several people this could apply to could possibly find this post. I also don’t want to identify anyone, even people I am not “analyzing” or whatever just because that would be rude.
Remember, I have also “analyzed” myself in this post. I am trying to make myself better and be able to help anyone else who may need it to overcome what I am overcoming.
For God’s glory!